Monday, February 29, 2016

Juggling

Today is our payday and I thankfully paid all if our bills.  It has felt lately like I've been juggling bills.  I opened a Hilton Citi card and charged the required $1000 on there to get the bonus.  While I like the travel rewards, I think its hard to keep track of more than one credit card with our daily spending. I do have other credit cards that occasionally have a charge on them like Kohls and Target.  I cancelled a Home Depot card for Y this week as we never shop there.  I also cancelled an Express card for me.  We just don't need those little store cards out there that have zero value.

I'm also waiting on several reimbursements right now.  From my work, I expect a reimbursement of $1150.  $830 should be coming from daycare flex and $540 from medical flex.  I'm waiting on receipts for all three to finalize the reimbursements.  I want to put about $1500 from the reimbursements to my Roth IRA.

Happy Monday!!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Vacation Planning

I said that I wanted to have my next trip funded with rewards.  I'm still in the early stages of completing this but my strategy so far has been to get a rough game plan for our next vacation.  This is what we've come up with.  We will likely go to Arizona but we've also tossed around the idea of Florida again.  It will be a family trip.  We will need to rent a car that will be big enough for us to be comfortable.

For Arizona, we would have a direct flight to Phoenix.  We refuse to do another layover with the kids and that severely limits our options.  I think we would stay in Phoenix for a couple days, preferably at a hotel with a pool or water park.  Then we would drive to the Grand Canyon and spend a night in the park.  Y wants to see Hoover Dam so we would likely head over there toward evening.  We would spend a night there, do a tour and head back to the Phoenix area.  It's a bit of driving but not all at once.  Also, I'm always the driver on vacation and I love it.

We need this for free then:  round trip airfare for 4, rental vehicle, 5-6 nights in different hotels.  I think I can do this because I have time and credit on my side.

Suggestions?  Please tell me what you think.  Have you been to this area before?  Any other must do activities?

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Busy Saturday

I am up bright and early on a Saturday morning with the kiddos.  Punk has gymnastics later this morning.  It's been so nice here that I will try to run outside during the hour that she's there.  I certainly will not be running for a solid hour but it will feel good to stretch my legs.  It feels like spring here this week.

The local grocery store has had awesome deals last week and this week.  We stocked up last week and I need to do the same today.  Assuming that the deals aren't the same next week, I'm planning to skip next week's grocery shop.  I usually go weekly but if I can go less often, it does save money.  I have menu planned for two weeks but may need to pick up fresh produce and milk.

I was sorting through some old financial documents earlier this week.  I came across a budget from 2009 before we had kids.  Our grocery budget was $300 and I stayed within it!  Granted we lived in a larger city with much cheaper groceries but still.  It has doubled for us.  Kids are expensive to feed.

Does anybody have any good tips for getting marked down food from Walmart?  There is never anything on the weekends.  I stopped to pick up fresh produce there this week and they had marked down hummus and pesto.  Do they usually mark down during the week?  Any particular day?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

2015 Taxes Filed

I finished our 2015 taxes today. We are getting back $2460 for federal and $265 from state.  Y and I have talked about what we will do and come to an agreement.  We will split $2000. He is free to do what he wants with his but he knows that I'm against him buying reloading equipment for safety reasons.

I had to think really hard about what I want to do with mine.  Usually if I want clothes or shoes, they come out of our regular budget.  The one splurge that I would like is to hire a designer to finish my house.  I want to hire a main wall painted.  I also need a little help finishing off the design.  I'm naturally a minimalist but its a fine line to decorate as a minimalist.  I don't do knick knacky things and I don't want my walls to look cluttered.  I'm going to enlist my friend to paint and we will see where to go from there.  A friend of mine told me about an online design service.


Monday, February 15, 2016

Valentine's Recap

We had an absolutely lovely Valentine's Day.  Y let me sleep in and when I woke up, he gave me a Valentine's basket.  He had small chocolate gifts for the kiddos.  I cleaned out his pick-up as a gift to him.  We took the kids to a movie in the afternoon, Kung Fu Panda 3.  The movie was really good. Lil G made roaring sounds at the screen during the fight scenes and yelled Panda Bear at one point.  I took Punk to figure skating last evening.  When we came home, Y had prepared seafood pasta with spicy marinara and scallops.  It was so good!

We have a dilemma in our house.  Y wants to split our tax return and essentially spend it on whatever we want.  It would be about $1000 apiece.  I don't want to so that as I think its a waste of money.  He wants a new gun and ammunition reloading equipment.  He thinks that overall we save too much money and need to live for today.  He is sick of me being cheap and wants to spend without answering to me.  We rarely disagree about money but are definitely not in agreement about this one.  What do you think?  Do I need to lighten up?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Impatiently Waiting

I'm impatiently waiting for 2 forms from dividends to finish my taxes.  I've been checking every day.  The last day it can arrive is February 15.  I still haven't fully funded my Roth IRA so that is high in the priority list, along with finishing our basement.

This is a long weekend for Y and myself.  I'm debating sending the kids to daycare and having some adult time on Monday--maybe a belated Valentine's lunch.  I asked Punk if she wanted to go or stay home and she said she wanted to do both.  I guess its a good thing that they like their daycare.

We don't do anything romantic for Valentine's.  I will make a nice dinner for the whole family.  I can't tell my kids they would be getting a babysitter on the day meant for loved ones.  I will get my kids little treats, maybe books for each of them.


Monday, February 8, 2016

Earned Income Credit

For the purposes of this blog post, I will assume that everyone knows what Earned Income Credit is. If you don't, go look it up and come back.

Earned income credit is the biggest money waste of taxpayer's dollars ever.  I see people blowing their giant refund checks of $5000+ in Walmart on big screen TV's, game systems, cell phones and other expensive electronics.  Some people might save theirs or pay bills but a majority blow their refund in a matter of days.  One only has to go into Walmart and set foot in the electronics section to see poor people with a boatload of kids buying willy nilly while their kids stand there without hats, boots, gloves and haven't had a haircut for who knows how long.

Here are ways that I think the money could be much better spent than giving it back to poor people to blow:

Expand eligibility for WIC--currently the cutoff age is 5 for children, expand it to age 12 and include fresh fruits and vegetables

Expand daycare assistance so those that want to work can do so

Expand preschool programs on a federal level.  Some states have them but not all and it's proven that these programs targeted to the poor do set up children for later academic success

Provide training and/or education for single moms--they do this in prison, why not elsewhere?  Train women to cut hair, become a machinist, cook, any skill that makes more money

It really irks me to see my tax dollars get blown by somebody who received a refund because of the ridiculous Earned Income Credit.  If they use it to better their life, then so be it but I don't think most do.  Do you have another good way federal dollars could be spent to actually help the poor?